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United for the Rio: How we celebrated Earth Day 2022

Audubon Southwest collaborated with pro soccer team New Mexico United to celebrate Earth Day and promote conservation of the Rio Grande.

Somos unidos (we are united) is the perfect phrase for both Audubon’s conservation work, as well as Albuquerque’s professional soccer club, New Mexico United. In honor of our favorite holiday—Earth Day—Audubon debuted a new partnership with United and the NM United Foundation to raise awareness of our freshwater conservation program on the Rio Grande during their game day on April 23.

The Rio Grande is the lifeblood of New Mexico, supporting our state’s communities, agriculture, and essential wildlife habitat. Our 2022 campaign proclaimed: we are #UnitedForTheRio! United fans and Audubon members were invited to step outdoors, breathe, listen to the birds outside their window, and feel the uniting power of the Rio Grande flowing through our state.

Western rivers, like the Rio Grande, the Colorado River, and their tributaries, provide water for tens of millions of people and sustain our food supply. In addition to providing clean water and protection from floods, healthy rivers also support abundant game and wildlife, and underlie our multi-billion-dollar recreation and tourism economy.

Unfortunately, the health of these rivers are in jeopardy.

The future of our western communities and economies that rely on these rives are uncertain. As the increasing value of water has outpaced the value of food and land, some farmers have no choice but to sell their water rights. Many sales transfer water to upstream urban centers, often diminishing streamflows between the cities and rural communities. But, while water scarcity breeds conflict, it also breeds opportunities.

Audubon believes that people are at the heart of sustainable water management and solutions to water scarcity. Our work to change attitudes about how we use, manage, and value water is centered on building relationships and collaborative partnerships to achieve conservation victories at scale.

We accomplish conservation through a multi-pronged strategy of market-based solutions, policy reform, engagement, on-the-ground conservation, and education. Our work is grounded in science, innovation, and collaboration.


Audubon hosted a community-wide trash cleanup during Earth Week, April 18-22. Audubon and United fans were instructed, “Grab a bag, some gloves, and step outside to help us clean up your local river, bosque, or park. Be sure to tag NM United, Audubon Southwest, and use the hashtag #UnitedForRheRio to share your posts!”

Throughout Earth Week, folks from Santa Fe to Albuquerque shared photos and stories of their efforts to clean up their local arroyos, bosques, and neighborhoods. Some of the most active participants were enthusiastic students from Coral Community Charter School in Albuquerque. Their STEAM teacher, Ms. Mikayla Martinez, coordinated several days of cleanup around Nob Hill, combining outdoor learning with trash pickups to connect students with the outdoors.

At the end of the contest, Coral Community Charter School won the drawing for a signed Game Day jersey from the team!

Thank you New Mexico United and all our supporters committed to protecting one our most precious resources, the Rio Grande!

A smiling Golden Retriever named Cozmo poses next to a bag of garbage picked up along the Santa Fe River. Photo: @chrisvon21
A man carries an orange bucket filled with trash across a dry mesa with the Sandia Mountains in the distance Photo: Christopher McHale
At the end of the contest, Coral Community Charter School won the drawing for a signed Game Day jersey from the team!

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